Came to the party at Cardiff
I know it was a few days ago but I can't let the superb display at Cardiff go by without writing a little about it. I would have been happy enough had the boys gone down there and come away with a hard-earned point. To go there and put on such a tremendous performance was testament to the way these players have been going about their business this season.
Aaron Ramsey was once again the star of the show in his home city. I said in the preview piece on Friday that he would be a different player from the youngster who played against Cardiff in his first season at Arsenal. The respect he showed to the fans of the team he supports was admirable (though he did celebrate Flamini's goal!) and he got similar respect in return. The applause that greeted his first goal was very similar to that which Eduardo received when scoring against Arsenal for Shakhtar Donetsk a couple of years ago. Football fans may be a fickle bunch, but we know a nice guy when we see one and that's why people like Ramsey and Eduardo are still loved even after they've moved on. Maybe the likes of Van Persie could have learned something there, rather than running their mouths off at those who had made them in to a World Class performer in the first place (claiming that Alex Ferguson was responsible for him being so good was the most disrespectful thing he could have said after the support he received from Arsene Wenger).
As much as Ramsey was the key man in scoring two tremendous goals - the header for his first was an outstanding finish - I want to single out Mesut Ozil for some praise. I've been very critical of the German and his ineffectual performances of late. On Saturday he was much more involved in the general play, with the extra space created by the running of Cazorla, Wilshere and Ramsey being something he could revel in. He provided the cross for that Ramsey header but the pass for Flamini's goal was the one thing in the game that took the breath away. If a better pass gets played this season then I can't wait to see it. It is a player of rare ability that can see the brilliant run from midfield and then thread the pass through two or three defenders, at the most perfect weight imaginable, to allow a first-time strike from Flamini who didn't have to break his stride. The finish itself was emphatic, but the pass was from another planet. That is the quality you pay £45m for and if it's a sign that Ozil is starting to settle then it can only be good for Arsenal.
The games now come thick and fast until the FA Cup 3rd round in January. Tomorrow we play a Hull side that will be buzzing after their win over Liverpool on Sunday. We will go in to the game without the rested/injured Bacary Sagna. He had a massive strapping on his thigh during the game at Cardiff so I'm not surprised he is out. I'll preview that game tomorrow morning in more detail.